Tuesday, September 30, 2008


As the resident banker in almost all the blog circles I'm a part of, I feel the need to say a few things about the happenings in the financial world. While some of this might be opinion and commentary, I remind you I'm in the midst of this fire. Daily I dissect the information as presented to me and my colleagues, and then repeatedly share and teach and ensure and encourage my clients/customers to what it all means to them. I get on-the-hour updates to the financial condition of the dollar and everything that means to the world as a whole. I'm in the belly of this thing; and in this day and age that's a heavy place to be. So while my rant may be opinion driven, know it comes from an educated position.

For those of you unfamiliar with how America reached this point, here's a quick lesson in global finance.
1)Banks sell loans. Loans make money from the interest they charge. Banks lend or borrow from other banks using that interest income as collateral. Loans are put into packages and traded on the stock market as securities. (A good example is a duplex that has rental income. The fact that the building has the potential to earn money, like interest on a loan, is the reason someone purchases the duplex. Buying a number of duplexes would increase your income potential.)

2)The next part of that equation is the high mortgage defaults. Banks sold Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM's) when lending rates were low. They were attractive to people because the payments were low and affordable. But when the rates rose the monthly payments rose as well and quickly became unaffordable. When payments aren't made, the house goes into foreclosure and the loan into default. Going back to point #1, those bundled loan securities were now losing value due to the defaults which means they no longer had the potential to earn money. As a result, banks stopped lending to other banks because they couldn't trust their loan packages.

3)Before the mortgage crisis, loan packages which had been turned into securities were very profitable. As a result they became the bulk of many investment portfolios. Companies, individuals, and governments used them to loan, buy, sell, trade, and speculate. When the packages started collapsing because the loans were defaulting, it created a spiral that affected everyone. Some of those companies collapsed because they weren't diversified (split evenly) enough, and thus started the closing and bailing out of so many.

***Warning: Opinions beginning***
Much of the blame for this has been leveled at the banks and the government for pushing these ARM's. And without reserve I know banks wholly took advantage of many people just to make a buck. They swindled people like travelling salesman of old (and doctors bedding down with pharmaceutical companies today.) They shined a rainbow on the positives and hid the negatives behind smoke screens. At the root of all companies who deal with other people's money should be the ideal of ethics. We should be an industry of trust. The banks that pushed ARM's (and the government who provided incentives for those sales) violated and destroyed that trust.

That said, I am thoroughly disgusted that everyone is so quick to blame others for their problems. True, banks were throwing out mud that looked like gold, but that does NOT take away the fact that the consumer didn't take responsibility for themselves. If I walk in front of a train it is not the trains fault --because it didn't stop-- that I died; rather it is purely on me. I am tired of people crying foul when patience and good judgement would have spared them from any ill results.

When Ell and I bought our log house, the developer we bought it from penciled off a tract of land from the property we thought we were getting. We didn't see it (because we didn't inspect the final documents) and a couple years later we lost a large portion of land we thought was ours. This pissed me off like nothing ever had before in my life. I contacted a real estate attorney and threatened to sue the developer for taking advantage of us and stealing our land. I didn't though, because in the end what happened was my fault for not being careful. You can chalk it up to young, ignorant stupidity, but that doesn't take away the fact that what happened could have been prevented if I'd had patience and better judgement.

Please know I'm not defending banks here. Nor am I saying there aren't crooks and thieves in this crazy world. But I've had just about all I can take with the no-responsibility, pass the buck, it's not my fault mentality this country lives in. Add onto that the sheep attitudes so many have because they refuse to pursue thinking for themselves. I have no compassion for people who won't pull themselves up from problems or admit their own errors. I am sick of where we sit as citizens and am convinced these attitudes will destroy our country if we don't combat them. Wake up people. Read, listen, inspect, review. What happens to you is a result of your own actions.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Monday, September 29, 2008

House work

As many of you know, Ell and I have been busy trying to downsize our life. The biggest thing we're eliminating is our house. There are a few things, some of them major, that need done to make the house a little more appealing in this down housing market. One of the bigger projects is painting the house. While slapping paint on wood sounds fairly simple, when you're dealing with a 190 year old house there tend to be many problems and the problems tend to be complex.

The short list of what needs done before paint can be applied...
-Pressure washing the dirt and old paint off the siding
-Scraping and sanding the siding
-Replacing a rotten support board on the front of the house
-Tearing down and rebuilding a bulkhead (rafter support)
-Trimming out the porch
-Replacing missing wooden siding
-Trimming out the new windows on the front and back of house
-Moving electrical wires and light fixtures
-Pressure washing and applying soap and cleaner to the porch floor
-Aluminum siding removed from log part of house
-Caulking every board, trim, window, door, corner, edge, hole, gap, and all the other things that need it in a 190 year old house

I already wrote about the work that was done two Saturdays ago, and I worked almost all of this past weekend as well. The painting is scheduled for this Saturday at 10:00 am, but unfortunately about half of the list above still needs completed. Almost every step of the job has ended up being harder and taken longer than originally thought, and I had already been rather generous with my expectations. I'm either fighting with the gaps and holes that come with a log house, or having to replace the horrible workmanship of people who added onto that log house with horrible construction skills.

It sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm really enjoying all this. Sometimes I feel so lazy pushing papers and typing keys all day, that hard physical labor refreshes me like nothing else. As Adrienne always says, the banker title doesn't seem to fit me. If the feeling of being alive that I've felt the last few weeks is any indicator, she might be right. I still yearn to work with people, but I don't think the image of my dad working hard every day will ever stop being my life-ruler.

If you have no plans on Saturday, come on over. We're providing lunch, and will even accept special beer orders for after the work is done. (I'll also accept any help anyone offers during the evenings this week. How's that for begging?) Peace.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Funny

My friend Cyndy sent me some jokes yesterday that I'd like to share with all of you. If things work out with "Company-X" I'll probably lose her as a source for funnies, so I'd like to take advantage of her generosity while I can. Enjoy.

Sensible Observations

When I die I want to die like my grandfather-who died peacfully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.

Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle-"Take two aspirin" and "Keep away from children."

"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY and they meet at the bar."
-Drew Carey

"The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job. But if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house."
-Jeff Foxworthy

"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's' life without even considering if there is a man on base."
-Dave Barry

"Relationships are hard. It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice. There should be severance pay, and the day before they leave you they should have to find you a temp."
-Bob Ettinger

"My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.'"
-Paula Poundstone

"A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.'"
-Conan O'Brien

"I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'"
-Richard Jeni

"If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the Impersonators would be dead."
-Johnny Carson

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." -Mark Twain

"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My goodness, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'"
-Dave Barry

Do you know why they call it "PMS"?Because "Mad Cow Disease" was taken.
-Unknown, presumed deceased

"Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer."
-W. C. Fields

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day three and four of Four days and a wedding

6:00 am Woke up with the realization that the cough of the previous couple days had turned into something much worse
6:01 Stumbled downstairs hacking and coughing the whole way
6:02 Fed the cats, grabbed some water, checked my phone, turned on the TV for some white noise, and curled up in my Lay-Z-Boy under a blanket
10:00 Woke up in a cold sweat and went back upstairs to wake Ell up for church
10:45 Left to pick up the Wilson's and then to church
12:30 pm Back to the Wilson's house where I realize my left ear is aching (up until Sunday I had never experienced an earache due to a surgery when I was five years old that may have damaged some nerves), realize I don't like earaches
1:30 Eat lunch of ginourmous grilled cheese and mac-n-cheese fixed by friends Jonathan and Megan
4:00 Ell informs me I have a fever and need to rest
4:15 Back at home and in my chair for a nap
6:00 Head to Johnny Appleseed Festival in downtown Lisbon with Jonathan and Megan
7:30 Back home and into my chair for the night
10:00 To bed for what would turn out to be one of the worst sleeps ever, never asleep longer than twenty minutes at a time and never soundly

5:00 am Body is sore, throat is raw, nose is surprisingly clear, top of cheek bones hurt, eyes keep watering, fever is high, and my left ear is completely blocked in a feeling I can only describe as having water in it after swimming (which is still affecting me intensely as I write this, three days later)
5:01 Crawl downstairs and into Lay-Z-Boy under a blanket
6:15 Ell wakes me up to beg me to stay home from work, I have no strength to argue, she tucks me in and gets me water and my phone
7:00 Wake up long enough to call my boss and report off
10:00 Wake up again with my right ear starting to close up, if I stand up and raise my chin in the air like I'm attempting a chin up- the blockage seems to clear (I look like a dork when I do it though, and it's horribly painful when the blockage closes back up which happens as soon as I put my head back into a normal position), head to the kitchen for some tea
10:10 Start watching season 6 of Smallville, occasionally napping
3:30 pm Ell arrives home with some food, realize I hadn't eaten yet (now that's a first), try to explain that I can't hear anything and the vibrations of my breathing and walking and moving are loud inside my head and it's super weird
4:30 Ell goes back into work and I settle into my chair to watch TV and read for the rest of the night
11:00 Go upstairs and hope for a better night sleep than the night before

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day two of Four days and a wedding

8:00 am Rolled out of bed. Yikes. I really slept in today.
8:15 Had a violent coughing spell and expelled a huge amount of green and brown flem. (An audible sigh rings out, "Sam, you didn't have to share that part.")
8:17 Remembered that our new digital box gets a station that shows an hour of Spiderman cartoons and I've already missed 17 minutes of it.
9:00 Scrounge around for work clothes (work as in outside work, not shirt and tie) and head outside to work on the house.
11:30 Friends Brad and Chip show up and strip aluminum siding off back side of log part of the house. Then we move porch furniture and heeeeeeeavy kindling box. Man; I did not plan on ever moving that thing.
12:30 pm Friend Mike arrives and pressure washing begins. Ell arrives soon after with friend Grant and everyone works on pressure washing, scraping, washing, trimming of windows, cleaning, siding securing, sanding, and much more dirty work.
6:30 Start cleaning up and drinking.
8:15 Head to grocery store with friend Ginny to buy dinner fixin's. Buy Ell two steel kitchen scrubbing pads and a couple orange roses to commemorate our eleventh anniversary. Regret not putting up one of those emotional anniversary posts that many have been doing lately. But that wouldn't be original now would it? Remind myself that steel scrubbing pads are super original and they'll make her smile.
9:00 Dinner and drinks and good conversation.
11:30 Head inside to watch SNL.
12:20 am Notice flashing lights outside and realize the power company has chosen this time to work on our still snapped pole. Hurriedly light candles in anticipation of power outage.
12:22 Lights go out.
12:40 Struggle to stay awake in candlelit room. Say half-conscious goodbyes as friends leave.
1:45 Wake up as power is restored. Try to convince Mike and Ginny to just spend the night but they insist tomorrow is busy and they should go. Say a small prayer as they pull out that God will keep them awake.
2:00 Hit the sack again well past an hour I want to.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day one of Four days and a wedding

7:05 am Got out of bed to feed the cats. Took a vacation day so I slept in.
7:15 Checked the weather, 3-S's, ate breakfast, balanced the checkbook, got dressed, yes, in that order
9:00 To bank
9:30 To Cafe for breakfast with Brad, notice I have a small cough
10:00 To "Company-X" for second interview (more on this in another post)
11:40 Left interview and then to friend's house to pick up van. Stayed just long enough to give impression I cared more about him (that day) than just for the use of his van
12:05 pm Decided a trip home to get a bag and change of clothes would make us all late in getting to Cleveland for the wedding
12:06 To friend's house to pick up those going to wedding
12:35 To gas station for beverage and gasoline (guess I could have gone home after-all)
1:58 Pull into hotel parking lot two minutes before scheduled arrival time
2:20 Finally see groom, freshly showered. (No one is tuxed-up yet, so now I greatly regret not going home for a change of clothes.)
2:30 Change into tux and head outside for groomsmen pictures, cough has gotten worse
2:55 Pile into limos and arrive at church; only one hour to wait now. Why are we here so early?
3:40 Take picture of myself in a mirror and send it to Ell since she won't get to see me tuxed-up.
4:00 Wedding
4:30 Pictures, to park for more pictures, to reception hall
5:45 Get a text message from Ell telling me the picture I sent her is hot and she wants to "do me!" Someones getting laid tonight.
6:00 Finally introduced and head into hall for AMAZING dinner of prime rib (with yummy horseradish sauce), lemon chicken, beans, potatoes, pasta, and good champagne
6:45 Head to the bar with my brother in law, dreading the awful beer selection they'll have, at first disappointed as expected, then ecstatic to be informed of a secret stash for wedding party of limited edition Great Lakes brew. The night has begun to look up.
7:30 Wedding party dance with crazy lesbian friend, other's seemed bored or uncomfortable but we had a blast (not sure who was leading, though)
10:30 Back to hotel to drop off brother and sister in law at their room, change out of tuxes
12:15 am Finally into van and headed for home, my coughing keeps my friend Jess awake and she in turn keeps me awake
1:50 Drop off friends at home
1:55 Drop off van and pick up car
2:15 Into bed, no one's getting laid tonight

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


1. What are your nicknames?
Well, Sam is short for my really long, two word first name, so I guess that qualifies as a nickname.

Ell calls me Sammy-T sometimes. Some of my teenagers heard her do it one time so they started calling me that too.
A lot of people call me Sammy.

2. What do you do before bedtime?
After a TV show or some book reading, I attempt to wake Ell up from the couch and get her upstairs.

3. What fandom(s) are you most into at the moment?
How I met your mother.

4. What is your favorite scent?
I love freshly cut grass.

Any dessert-like things while they're baking.

5. What video games are you playing at the moment?
Not a gamer. Every game system we've owned has been Ell's. At one point in my life I liked the Resident Evil games and even finished Resident Evil 2, but that's all I can claim.

6. What is your theme song?
What a great question! I have no idea what the answer is, but I love the question.

7. Do you trust easily?
At certain points in my life I struggled(?) with both trusting without question and taking everyone too seriously. As a result I learned to second guess people's motives, actions, and words. It was for the best that I grew out of that, but it was a simpler time when I blindly trusted that everyone was honest and real.

8. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?
My mom tried for years to get me to think before acting. That instruction still hasn't taken hold.

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?
Yes. But not in an overwhelming way. I'm still usually happy.

10. Do you have a good body-image?
With this sexy overweight Irish body, how could I not?

11. Is being tagged fun?
When the tag is good.

12. What websites do you visit daily?
Daily... not very many. When I get free wi-fi somewhere... my blogroll, ChristianPipeSmokers.net, Google, and a few others.

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?
Throwing/giving stuff away. If you've been to our house lately you've probably left with something. Right?

14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
The BOMB!!!
(For those wondering, the venerable Kimmy tagged me.)

15. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Some Celtic diddy from Brady's Leap.

16. What’s your favorite item of clothing?
A good pair of bluejeans.

17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?
Yes, if they're inside Rice Krispie Treats.

18. What would you do if you see saw $100 lying on the ground?
Depending on where I was, I would either turn it in or keep it if I thought it would not likely ever be returned to it’s rightful owner.

19. What items could you not go without during the day?
Water and at least a couple good hugs from my wife.

20. What should you be doing right now?
Bank stuff. That reminds me, I need to call about that interview.

I think everyone has been tagged that enjoys this kind of stuff, but I'll try Dave & Betsy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

At the Bank

A short, stubby, middle-aged, well dressed man just left my office. His voice was straining and high pitched even though he was putting off a vibe of cool-to-the-max. The words he spoke came out of his mouth very clear but very extended. Say the word "everything" but stretch it out for three or four seconds and you'll get a good mental picture of this guy. The following is the beginning of our conversation; word for word...

Stubby high pitched long talker: "I need to get a loan."

Me: "What kind of loan are you looking for?"

Stubby high pitched long talker: "Not sure, like $3000?" (Yes the inflection indicated a question.)

Me: "What do you need the money for? A car loan or something different?"

Stubby high pitched long talker: "Yeah. Kind of like a car loan."

Me: "Kind of like a car loan?"

Stubby high pitched long talker: "Yeah."

Me: "So you're buying a car?"

Stubby high pitched long talker: "I don't know."

The conversation got no easier from there. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this job?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is that the wind?

As some others have already blogged, the top of Hurricane Ike played some havoc on Ohio. While this post is going to be the details of my(our) experience, during everything we went through last night I kept thinking and mentioning how intense the full storm must have been down in Texas. Our prayers to those uncertain of the condition of the homes and lives they fled, and to the families of those that lost their lives.

The beginning of the storm blew in around 8:00 while Ell and I were eating dinner with our friend Megan. We live in this weird weather channel in a low spot between two hills, so high wind and weather extremes are not shocking anymore. But when we saw car lights lining up in front of our house we knew the problems had started. One of the old locust trees across from our house had fallen across the road and the helpless (read--lazy) motorists couldn't get through. I grabbed the chainsaw and headed out to clear the road.

As we got close to the road I noticed the telephone pole at the end of the driveway was snapped at the bottom and was leaning into our yard. The lines to the house were almost touching the ground and with every gust of wind the pole leaned more towards us. Quite scary. Ell wrote the whole story (and added some pictures) so I won't bore you with all the details, but I do want to thank our friends Jonathan and Megan and Brad for their tremendous help in cleanup today. Five truckloads and a huge bonfire later the yard looks slightly less like a war zone.

A couple other additions of info...
A fireman friend of mine stopped and said the destruction around our house was the worst area he'd seen but Leetonia had the most overall torn-up condition. Hope all is well with you Kevin and Kimmy.
My Dad and Mom had a run in with their huge pine tree. By the grace of God, the tree found the ground in the tiny strip of lawn between their and their neighbor's house. My Mom put some pics up on her blog. Pretty crazy story.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Funny

A few people on my blogroll are doing a little contest and blogging everyday in September with the focus being Ha-Ha type of posts. I thought about joining them but then my Friday Funny wouldn't be so anticipated. (As if...) If you want a few good laughs check out Kimmy and Adrienne (others have tried to participate but these two are the regular offenders) and enjoy my own contribution for today. Shield the little one's eyes, this is an adult one.

A overly confident man walked into a supermarket not realizing his zipper was down. As he passed the first cute, lady cashier she said, "Your barracks door is open." He wasn't sure what she meant so he kept walking, looking a bit puzzled. When he was about done shopping he passed a guy who stopped him and said, "Hey. Your fly is open." Thanking the kind fellow, he zipped up and continued his shopping.

At the checkout, he intentionally got in the line where the cute cashier was who had informed him of his 'barracks door'. Planning on having a little fun with her, when he reached the counter he asked, "When you saw my barracks door open, did you see a Marine standing at attention?" The lady (naturally quicker and brighter than the guy) thought for a moment then replied, "No; no I didn't. All I saw was a disabled veteran sitting on a couple of duffel bags."

Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sunday Night

He headed to his garden
His mind he meant to calm
The sights and smells abounded
And quickly he disarmed

He pulled the weeds with force
No trace he left behind
The beds grew clean and neat
No seeds could err he find

Carrots were the harvest
Red and orange and long
Their skin was crisp and tender
No one could speak their wrong

His arms he filled with color
Pollen strewn his shirt
Flowers of sun he'd cut
His wife he meant to flirt

He walked across the yard
And stepped into the house
She turned to see her love
The man she called her spouse

His always naked feet
Were stained with grass and blood
His pants were stained with brown
From kneeling in the mud

His breath was strong and bold
Fresh onion he had ate
He hadn't washed the fruit
Dirt splashed across his grate

But still she smiled sweetly
This man she dearly cared
She raised to kiss his lips
Her love she so declared

No one she knew was stronger
No one she knew more brave
The dirt and smells and blood
Did quickly she forgave

The two of them were rare
Their love a precious sight
Two hands our God had placed
On them that Sunday night

Monday, September 08, 2008

The death of common sense

I don't usually cut and paste direct emails, but this one can't be let go without more people seeing it.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain
Why the early bird gets the worm
Life isn't always fair
Maybe it was my fault

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies, like "Don't spend more than you can earn," and reliable strategies, like "Adults, not children, are in charge."

His health began to deteriorate when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Tylenol, sun lotion, or a band-aid to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense started to lose the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when it became punishable for you to defend yourself from a burglar in your own home, and the burglar could sue you for assault.

He began to lose ground rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his Daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday Funny

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on Offshore drilling rigs. Below is an email he sent to his sister. She then sent the email to radio station FM103.2 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. She won.

Hi Sue, just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother.

Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not too bad after all.

Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with the technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office; a wet suit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea and heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose which is taped to the air hose.

Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints. What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, I take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a jacuzzi.

Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my entire butt started to burn.

I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically.

Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tub of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.

So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt. May you never have a jellyfish day. Love, Rob

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

secret compartment option

I've never owned a Debit/ATM card. I don't deny their usefulness, but Ell has one so I never had a need for another. Tuesday she gave me her card to get gas in the car. When I got home from work I couldn't find the card, but assumed it was in the pile of work stuff I was carrying. It had been in the car when I left work so it could only be one of two places: with my work stuff or still in the car. I went through all my papers and the card wasn't there so I went out to the car to look for it.

After five minutes of seat sliding, glove box emptying, car mat overturning, and some grumbling, the card was still lost. Ell came out and together we repeated all of the above. No luck. The ashtray (coin cup in our car) hides under a sliding cover below the radio and heater controls. When she slid back the cover to see if the card was in the ashtray (it wasn't) she noticed a tiny gap where the lid slid into the console. The gap was no wider than a couple pieces of paper laying flat. There was no way a card could fit into the slot. All our other options were spent, so we got out a screwdriver and took off the side plastic panels to see if the tiny slot had eaten our card.

Imagine our surprise when we not only found our debit card, but two credit cards (we cancelled all our credit cards almost four years ago), eight business cards, parking permits from training I did in Cleveland and Youngstown three years ago, mini baseball cards from Cracker Jack boxes (we never eat Cracker Jacks), a couple honey-do lists, a magnet from the Main Street Theatre, and a CD that wasn't ours. That sliding lid had been stealing things for five years and neatly stacking them in a secret compartment directly behind itself right below the dashboard.

As I relayed the story that night to the owner of the missing CD, he reminded me of the discussion we'd had over it's disappearance. He said I still had it, I said I didn't. My adamant side of the disagreement was that Ell and I keep CD's in only two places and his CD was in neither of those places. By deduction, his CD had been returned. The careful organizational minds Ell and I both use ruled out a third spot because we would never be so careless as to not place things where they belong. Even though it did end up being somewhere else, we didn't know that somewhere else even existed.

I wonder how often we humans get stuck on things being one or two ways with the same number of explanations, when there is very likely another option we don't even know exists. Since we don't know it exists we refuse to accept or talk about anything beyond our staunch beliefs. How much do we miss -- or ignore -- because we won't open our minds to that additional option? Or even the idea that other options could exist? Just a thought.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A couple good days

My "weekend in review" posts tend to be eye-numbing long, so how 'bout just the highlights? (Yeah, right.)

First of all, cars. Not a good topic right now. If anyone remembers my post from last year where I said that our cars always break down at the same time, but you doubted my statement, here's more proof.
  • Ell's Jetta won't start after she gets gas at the gas station. Once jumped it runs fine, but then won't start.
  • The GTI suddenly started running rough; wouldn't go more than 30 mph.
  • The truck blows a tire and I'm stranded in the middle of no-cell-service-where and with no tire iron.
  • I'm informed the GTI has no taillights rendering it useless after dark.

This all happened within seven days. Anyone still doubting?

One good note in that mess, I got to meet a nice old lady named Mildred who ignored social suggestions and answered the door when the big hairy stranger knocked on it. I know old people just need someone to talk to and that AAA takes forever, so we sat and chatted on her porch for twenty minutes. The coolest part was that she told me she answered the door because I looked like a, "Happy guy." Considering the frustration I was feeling at my present situation I took that as a great compliment.

After the tow truck showed up and changed my tire (talk about demasculanization) I made it home 2 1/2 hours after getting off work. Then we headed into clumsybanana to her brother's 30th birthday party. Someone had actually brought some good beer, so I just relaxed. That is until I was informed of the taillight thing. That was a fun drive home; especially with a cop following us.

Saturday, I met up with Jerry at the site where Dam 1 should have been on the canal. He had never seen the timbers, and only knew a few people who had. So we hiked down and located them. As he set up his camera, I hiked a little upstream and discovered more timbers. Then I found the opposite shore dam abutment. This had been thought to have been lost or dismantled and sold. I asked Jerry if he'd ever seen it or heard of it before, and he said no. So I had just found something that hadn't been seen or documented for over a hundred years. For a history buff, that's like finding buried treasure. Literally. It was a good day.

That afternoon we headed to Pittsburgh. We ate at The Church Brew Works we'd heard so much about. It's what it sounds like... an old church which has been converted into a brewery and restaurant. We sat up by the alter and I started off my meal with a six beer sampler. I could have drank my dinner, because their brews are sooooooo good. After that we walked Carson St.; the hip place to enjoy night life in the 'Burgh. The coolest thing I saw or we did was go to a coffee shop called, The Bee Hive. (I just talked to Dave about this on Tuesday...) When I was in my early twenties I drew up a business proposal to start a coffee shop. When I walked into The Bee Hive, I was blown away. It was as if someone had stolen my yellow legal pad and opened my shop. I loved it and wish I could visit there everyday.

Sunday we went to the Pirates game. While my Pirates lost, I got to watch the best pitcher in the major leagues, CC Sabathia, pitch a complete game. That was cool to see.

Today is a holiday, so I'm sitting at the Encore. Heading home soon to do some dishes and laundry, end enjoy my day off. It's been a good weekend.